Lab Book for a Novel: My Credentials

As I start on this novel, I think it is important to know where I am in my writing career. What follows is a brief summary.

  • I started writing and submitting stories to magazines while a junior in college in early 1993.
  • After 14 years of writing stories and submitting them to (mostly) science fiction magazines, I made my first sale to Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show in late 2006, with the story appearing in July 2007.
  • After that, story sales came more readily. I sold stories to Apex, Analog, and an Italian e-book publisher, 40K Books. I also sold stories to some original anthologies.
  • I also started writing some nonfiction. Thanks in large part to this blog (on which I have been writing since late 2005) I honed my skills and in particular, my voice at nonfiction writing. I was asked to write two editorials for Analog. I’ve written nonfiction articles for Lightspeed and Clarkesworld. I wrote a book review column for Intergalactic Medicine Show. I had a technology column for The Daily Beast and I’ve written for 99U, Fatherly, and other magazines.

Just about all of this writing, I should emphasize, has been professional writing, in that I was paid professional rates for both the fiction and nonfiction.

My last published story, “Gemma Barrows Comes to Cooperstown,” was published in IGMS in 2015. Not long after that, my third child was born, and my time and ability to write dwindled down to nothing for a while.

In 2013, at the peak of my writing, I wrote my first novel. I wrote it for two reasons: I had a story I liked, and I wanted to see if I could do it. I’d always thought of myself as a short fiction writer, and I’ve always been impressed by colleagues and friends who have written many novels, published or not. To be completely honest, I wanted to be able to say that I had written a novel, even if it was an exercise. After all, that’s how I learned to tell a story: by doing.

I started writing the novel on February 28, 2013 and finished on September 14, 2013. The novel was 95,000 words long. It was a messy process, and though I started a second draft, it never got far, and I abandoned the story as several useful months of practice.

I joined the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of American (SFWA) after selling my first story and became a full active member after selling my third. I am still an active member today, although I don’t participate in either the mechanics or the voting for Nebulas. I just don’t have time, and I only read science fiction very rarely these days, so it wouldn’t be fair for me to vote on things that I haven’t read. I have done almost no fiction writing since 2015, save one short story in first draft form. I really like the story, but I’ve set it aside for a time because sometimes, I need to do that. This is where things stand for me as I start this new novel. I include this preface because everyone is at a different place in their writing career. Some people start writing a novel having never written fiction in their lives before. Others are writing their 40th bestseller. My progress, failures, and successes along the way are at least somewhat influenced by where I am in my writing career today. This should be taken into consideration for those readers following along: you may be at a different point in your career than I am, so your mileage may vary.